Portsmouth boss set to face up to fight to retain the support of Fratton faithful

The technical problems with iFollow would’ve restricted the viewing of the Eisner family.

Wednesday, 21st August 2019, 1:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd August 2019, 9:05 am
Ronan Curtis' body language says it all after Tuesday night's draw with Coventry. Photo by Robin Jones.

Those who witnessed the shambolic collapse at Fratton Park on Tuesday night weren’t so fortunate.

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Pompey boss Kenny Jackett and assistant Joe Gallen watch on against Coventry. Photo by Robin Jones.

Sometimes amid sports journalistic hyperbole words like embarrassment are bandied around a little too freely.

But that’s exactly what this debacle was.

And it was certainly an emotion to the fore for the royal blue majority amid a crowd of 18,748 who'd one again turned out in numbers to watch their team in a League One fixture.

Pompey’s most infamous result of this nature saw a four-goal lead at the break conceded to Fulham on New Year’s Day in 1985. But that was against 11 men and at least they had the gale-force winds to blame on that seminal afternoon.

Craig MacGillivray and Christian Burgess' demeanour sum up the mood after the draw with Coventry. Picture: Robin Jones

The fear, of course, is this night will be mentioned in the same breath as that occasion and the 5-5 draw with Oxford United in 1992 - games which proved so costly to promotion bids in the final reckoning. The three-goal lead given up at Southend in February is still fresh in the memory, too.

To be in control of a game, two goals to the good and not come away with all the points against a side with two fewer players just shouldn’t happen in a football match.

It’s such a preferential set of circumstances that it’s a job to recall a similar instance of it occurring, certainly in Pompey’s past.

Even factoring in a back four with a midfielder at right-back, centre-back returning from injury to make his debut and deputy left-back coming in cold the case for the defence, or lack of it, is flimsy at best.

Which is why when the cringing humiliation subsides it’s anger which sweeps in to take its place.

And it’s a culmination of those emotions and search for consequences for them surfacing which could make Tuesday such a significant night for some supporters.

The reaction certainly suggests a hardening of position from those who already had doubts about Kenny Jackett’s suitability as Pompey manager.

It’s undoubtedly triggered a tidal wave of anger, which is being powered to a substantial degree by the desperately disappointing manner in which last season’s impetus dissipated before ending with a whimper.

The preference among the players will always be to play quickly after such a damaging result, but perhaps it’s no bad thing the Rotherham game at Fratton has been postponed on Saturday.

Three fixtures and two-and-a-half weeks will have passed before we return to PO4 for league business, if the Southend meeting doesn’t fall foul of international call-ups.

Because there’s little doubt there’s the potential for the atmosphere to become toxic, as it stands. That was evident enough from the loudest crescendo of boos we’ve witnessed at Fratton Park for a fair while on Tuesday, certainly the worst reaction to a result during Jackett’s reign.

The mind drifts back to the poisonous winter afternoons of Paul Cook’s Fratton tenure when he came in for sustained flak from fans in home defeats to Exeter and Crewe. And make no mistake, the bile which spewed forth from the stands was worse on both of those occasions.

Yet, from the eye of those sweat-soaked storms Cook and Pompey were celebrating come the end of the season, with the manager’s oft-repeated truism all the pain will be forgotten amid glory ringing in the ears.

For something remotely similar to happen here and to avoid an end-of-season hangover of disappointment spilling over into something more sinister, results quickly need to follow. Jackett knows that more than anyone else.

Whatever your view of the Pompey boss and his approach to the game, there’s absolutely no denying his pragmatism, diligence and honesty.

There will be only a fair appraisal of his side’s shortcomings, work ethic to put it right and demand his players echo those qualities.

With unstinting backing coming from above, we will now find out in the coming weeks if that’s enough to retain the support of his team’s followers.